By Marcy Stamper
After reviewing all items on last year’s list of the most urgent upgrades and repairs to school buildings and grounds, the Methow Valley School District’s facilities task force has concluded that the needs have not changed — so they are proposing replacing floors, adding temperature controls for the district’s central technology servers and upgrading kitchen equipment.
Athletics programs would get a boost with insulation in the Methow Valley Elementary School gym, improvements to the weight room at Liberty Bell High School, a tennis court repair, and making the elementary school playground compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Other proposed fixes include new technology and storage for the Independent Learning Center, roof repairs at the elementary school, and classroom furniture throughout the system.
The task force also wants to remove the bus barn and add heat and ventilation to the staff area in the repair bays.
The recommended upgrades at all school buildings come to $4.5 million. The task force is proposing an additional $800,000 to purchase six new school buses over the next two years. The two levies would be put to voters this April at the earliest.
The $4.5-million capital-improvements levy would run for four years and result in an estimated property-tax increase of 86 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The transportation levy would be for two years, by state law, and would add 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
These levies are separate from other levies and bonds that voters have approved to support upgrades (such as roof repairs, computers and heating systems) as well as basic programs at the school. The programs and operations levy (previously called maintenance and operations, or M&O), which covers almost one-fourth of the district’s operating budget, expires in 2016, so the district will ask for a renewal next year.
The task force, composed of more than 20 staff, students and community members, began assessing all school facilities about a year ago and solicited input from the public before coming up with the final list. A planned vote was postponed last summer to be sensitive to economic issues in the wake of the wildfire.
The task force is sending a brochure detailing their findings and proposals to all households in the Methow Valley School District in the next week.
The district is seeking feedback on the proposals and priorities. A public meeting is scheduled on Monday, Feb. 23, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the elementary school. People can also submit comments online at the school district’s website at www.methow.org (the brochure will also be available on the site) through Feb. 28.